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First Reformed (2017)

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A minister of a small congregation in upstate New York grapples with mounting despair brought on by tragedy, worldly concerns and a tormented past.

Director:

Paul Schrader

Writer:

Paul Schrader
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782 ( 25)
Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 55 wins & 94 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Ethan Hawke ... Toller
Amanda Seyfried ... Mary
Cedric the Entertainer ... Jeffers (as Cedric Antonio Kyles)
Victoria Hill ... Esther
Philip Ettinger ... Michael
Michael Gaston ... Balq
Bill Hoag ... Elder
Kristin Villanueva ... Nurse
Ingrid Kullberg-Bendz ... Middle-Aged Tourist
Ken Forman ... Middle-Aged Man (as Ken Foreman)
Christopher Dylan White ... College Student
Frank Rodriguez ... Sheriff
Gary Lee Mahmoud ... Doctor
Joseph Anthony Jerez ... War Vet in Wheelchair (as Joseph Jerez)
Sue Jean Kim ... Suriya
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Storyline

Forty-six year old Reverend Ernst Toller is the pastor at the historic First Reformed Church in upstate New York. It is seen as the "tourist" church or the "souvenir shop" (its historical significance partly it being a stop on the underground railroad before the slaves crossed into Canada) by Abundant Life, which owns the church and which operates a modern self-named five thousand seat church overseen by Reverend Joel Jeffers. First Reformed is celebrating its two hundred fiftieth anniversary this year, for which a major event is planned, modest in size only at First Reformed itself although the dignitaries like the governor and mayor will be at attendance there, while the event will be simulcast at Abundant Life. Most of the speech-making will be done by local industrialist Ed Balq, a major benefactor of Abundant Life and who is the major donor for the necessary upgrades at First Reformed to be able to hold the event there, and for the event itself, while Toller's participation will ... Written by Huggo

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

Forgive us, for we have sinned. See more »


Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for some disturbing violent images | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Official Sites:

Official Facebook | Official site | See more »

Country:

USA | UK | Australia

Language:

English

Release Date:

18 May 2018 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

First Reformed See more »

Filming Locations:

Hicksville, New York, USA See more »

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Box Office

Opening Weekend USA:

$97,562, 20 May 2018, Limited Release

Gross USA:

$3,448,256, 2 August 2018
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Unusually shot in 4:3 ratio. Paul Schrader was inspired to shoot this way by Pawel Pawlikowski's Ida (2013) as he liked the way it framed the human body. Schrader also liked the sense of claustrophobia that the framing suggests. See more »

Goofs

When the black minister goes over to the parsonage to find Toller, he knocks on the door and tries to open it but it is locked. So how did the young woman manage to get inside the parsonage if the door was locked? See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
Reverend Ernst Toller: I have decided to keep a journal. Not in a word program or digital file, but in longhand, writing every word out so that every inflection of penmanship, every word chosen, scratched out, revised, is recorded. To set down all my thoughts and the simple events of my day factually and without hiding anything. When writing about oneself, one should show no mercy. I will keep this diary for one year; 12 months. And at the end of that time, it will be destroyed. Shredded, then burnt. The...
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Soundtracks

Onward, Christian Soldiers
Written by Sabine Baring-Gould
Composed by Arthur Sullivan
Performed by Brian Williams (as Lustmord)
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User Reviews

A daring and unexpected piece of filmmaking
20 November 2018 | by pjmdancerSee all my reviews

I never expected to be so moved by "First Reformed", a small indie that tackles large themes such as climate change, mental health, and faith rather ferociously. Though it is a bit of a slow-burn at the start, it's impossible not to be drawn in by Ethan Hawke's magnetizing performance. He is masterful as Ernst Toller, a pastor who begins to unravel after an encounter a husband and wife who are environmental activists. The second half of the film is particularly strong, as Toller's polite and unassuming facade begins to crack, and writer/director Paul Schrader makes some daring filmmaking choices that add to the unpredictability of the film as it heads toward the climax. Though the ending has been controversial among audiences, I thought it was an incredibly bold, beautifully executed choice, and the final few minutes of the film have been seared into my mind. Regardless of how you respond to the ending, there is no doubt that this is a thought-provoking and important piece of art. A must-see.


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